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Two Area Hospitals Recognized With Tennessee Department of Health BEST Award for the Effort to Decrease Infant Mortality

Jackson, Tennessee (February 10, 2021) – In 2019, approximately 7 out of every 1,000 infants in Tennessee did not make it to their first birthday. In an effort to save lives, West Tennessee Healthcare’s Jackson-Madison County General Hospital (JMCGH) and Volunteer Hospital in Martin, TN have partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) and Tennessee Hospital Association (THA) to reduce infant mortality by promoting breastfeeding, early elective delivery elimination and safe sleep to meet the criteria for the BEST award. The BEST award stands for Breastfeeding, Early elective delivery reduction and Safe sleep for Tennessee babies.

Increasing breastfeeding, reducing early elective delivery, and increasing adherence to safe sleep practices can reduce infant deaths. This is why JMCGH and Volunteer Hospital strived to meet the following criteria set by TDH around these topics to receive the BEST award:

  • Breastfeeding: Maintain baby-friendly designation through the year, have an increase of five percent or more in breastfeeding initiation rate from one year to the next or have
    a breastfeeding initiation rate of 82 percent or higher.
  • Early Elective Delivery: Have an early elective delivery rate of five percent or less.
  • Safe Sleep: Have either the Cribs for Kids National Safe Sleep Hospital Certification or a safe sleep policy meeting current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines. In addition, must have submitted cribs audits to TDH with a minimum of 90% of cribs considered safe.

“We are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of children, which is why we worked with our physicians and clinical teams to improve our efforts around breastfeeding, early elective delivery elimination and safe sleep,” said Tina Prescott, Chief Operating Officer of West Tennessee Healthcare.

For 2019, Tennessee’s infant mortality rate of 7.0 deaths per 1,000 live births exceeded the national rate of 5.6 deaths per 1,000 live births. Sleep-related deaths account for approximately 20% of all infant deaths each year. Premature births were one of the leading causes of infant death in 2019. Breastfeeding is a known protective factor against infant deaths. Focusing on these efforts can increase the number of babies making it to their first birthday.

Jackson-Madison County General Hospital and Volunteer Hospital are committed to the health and safety of all patients and is proud to partner with the TDH and THA in this effort to reduce
infant deaths.